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  1. Bingevision

    Monday, July 29, 2013

    By Samantha DeRose

    Confession.  I binge watch TV shows.  With the advent of Netflix, Video on Demand, etc.  I've become one of those people who spend entire weekends, vacations, summer breaks watching entire series in one sitting.  One very long sitting.

    Dexter, Arrested Development, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Ray Donovan, Homeland, Girls,  Bates Motel, etc.  I've binged watched them all.  Which leaves me in a bit of a quandary when I'm finally caught up with the rest of the world and have to wait for the next season to watch on a weekly basis like a normal person.

    I don't know why I do it to myself.  I find myself depressed, bereft, forlorn, wandering aimlessly in that stretch of time betwixt seasons (or at least until I can find something else to watch like a maniac).

    My most recent bout of bingevision occurred just this past weekend.  You may or may not know that one of my favorite podcasts is The Moth.  I listened to an episode last week in which the storyteller, Piper Kerman, told her tale of being a WASP sentenced to 15 months in a federal penitentiary.  The story was fascinating.  At the end of the podcast, the host, Dan Kennedy, mentioned that Kerman had written a novel about her experience which was being picked up by Netflix and made into a series called Orange is the New Black.

    What the what what?  Netflix had been "recommending" that series for about two weeks and for some reason, I ignored it because, well, it was Netflix recommending it for me and not a real person.  Now that I had "met" Piper Kerman (I feel that I know all of the Moth storytellers stalker) I trusted that the series would be great.

    And so Lee and I watched.  And watched.  And watched.  Until all 13 episodes were complete leaving us depressed, bereft, and forlorn until next season (2014).

    The series was phenomenal.  So phenomenal that it made me want to become an activist for women who have been incarcerated.  Each story resonated so deeply within me.  I felt that there really is just a fine line between their lives (even the meth addicts) and mine.

    I found myself so emotionally invested in this program that I decided that Lee and I would write to female prisoners to bring some sunshine into their lives. (Lee didn't know about this).

    First I went to Write a Prisoner Dot Com and searched for female inmates.  Not that male inmates don't need cheery letters, but I felt that I would have a stronger connection with the women... you know, kindred sisters.

    I decided to exercise some caution and search for inmates with life sentences and preferably older inmates.  Grandmotherly or motherly types (like the non-speaking inmate from the kitchen or Yoga Jones...both  from the series).  As much as I wanted to spread sunshine, I didn't want a stranger to come knocking on my door one day looking or a fix or a job or a place to crash with their man.

    Turns out that life sentences can vary meaning that the person could feasibly get out soon.   So I searched for women on Death Row.

    My search was narrowed to two women.  Their photos were remarkably like the women on Orange is the New Black.  They looked like ordinary women.  Someone I might bump into at the supermarket or invite to a book club.  Both of their mini-biographies said something along the lines of "the world seems to have forgotten me"  and "letters help me to get through my day..."

    I knew that I could be that person!  I'd buy new stationery, a new pen (inmates can't use the computers).  I wouldn't type my correspondence.  Handwritten letters would be so much more personal.

    The bios simply stated that both women had committed murder.  Hey.  While I would never do that, anything could happen.  I mean their photos were so wholesome.  I knew that these women must have suffered some type of awful abuse and had no choice but to commit those crimes.

    Just before I headed out to Office Depot to buy my new stationery, I decided to do a quick Google search on both of the women.

    Turns out that the first woman murdered 4 of her 5 children (the 5th survived).  I will not go into the details as I've had nightmares for 3 days now.

    The second woman and her boyfriend were serial rapists who tortured their victims in a van and eventually murdered a girl.

    I suppose it's safe to say that I'll stick to blogging and skip the letter writing.  Apparently, TV is not always a reflection of reality.

    I did, however, download Kerman's book (I mean, we're best friends and all) and it is just as phenomenal as the TV series (I binge read it in a day).   I highly recommend both.

    By the way, I'll be at Tierney's in Montclair on August 4th at 8pm

  2. 64 comments:

    1. OMG. Thank you for sparing someone like me the details. Intriguing blog.

    2. RHC said...

      I bigned on Dexter, Girls, & Bates Motel. Looking forward to a marathon of Breaking Bad. I hear it's great. BTW, I frequently do 2 or more episodes of Snapped at the drop of a hat.

    3. Anonymous said...

      OMG glad you did the research first!

    4. Samantha, I recall teaching writing skills to the staff of a juvenile jail (detention center), and the staff shared that the women workers had it harder with the girls in general. The reason was basically the courts go easier on girls, especially if they are pregnant, so the ones who get sentenced to incarceration had to have done something pretty awful.

      Like Lisa, I am glad you did the research first also.

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